Cat On a Hot Tin Roof appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. A few moderate problems made this a good but not stellar transfer.
For the most part, sharpness was fine. Occasional examples of softness occurred, and a couple of strangely blurry shots appeared. The majority of the flick displayed more than adequate definition, though. I saw no signs of jagged edges or shimmering, and only a smidgen of edge enhancement appeared. Source concerns were minor. A few specks showed up, and the movie looked a bit grainier than expected, but overall, things remained clean.
I found it a bit tough to judge the colors of Cat. Most of the movie seemed somewhat faded and pale as it favored a yellowish tint. I thought a lot of this was due to visual design, as scenes with brighter tones – like the party pieces – showed brighter tones. Still, I thought it was tough to accept the bland nature of so many shots as intentional. Blacks were deep and firm, and shadows looked clear and smooth. This ended up as a generally fine image.
I also felt pleased with the monaural soundtrack of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. The mix didn’t excel, but it was more than acceptable given its age. Speech consistently seemed natural and concise, and the lines betrayed no edginess or other problems. Music tended to be a little thin but seemed acceptably vivid and bright. Effects were clean and demonstrated reasonable range, especially in the boom of thunder. I didn’t find anything here to applaud, but I liked what I heard nonetheless.
A few extras round out this “Deluxe Edition” of Cat. The main attraction comes from an audio commentary with biographer Donald Spoto. He offers a running, screen-specific discussion. Although Spoto touches on a few production elements, he prefers to investigate other subjects. On occasion, he talks about the cast and other participants, censorship issues, and comparisons between the film and the play.
However, most of Spoto’s chat deals with more introspective topics. Spoto digs into themes and interpretation of the movie’s story, situations and characters. He does so fairly well, though at times he seems to simply narrate the action. Spoto also goes silent too often, and this leaves the commentary with a fair amount of dead air; this becomes a particular problem during its second half. I admit that I’d have preferred a more nuts and bolts Rudy Behlmer-style commentary, but I think Spoto makes this a generally intriguing and informative piece.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we locate a featurette entitled Cat on a Hot Tin Roof: Playing Cat and Mouse. This 10-minute piece includes archival materials, shots from the flick, and remarks from Spoto, authors Drew Casper and Eric Lax, and actor Madeleine Sherwood.
“Mouse” looks at the production with a particular emphasis on actors Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman. It discusses their careers prior to Roof and see how that film impacted on their lives and careers. “Mouse” doesn’t serve as a strong overview of the production, but it accomplishes its goals. It serves to educate us about complications behind the scenes with the main actors and works well in that regard.
Those actors help make Cat on a Hot Tin Roof a success. The film boasts consistently excellent performances and becomes a rich, involving character piece. The DVD offers pretty positive picture and audio along with a couple decent extras. This release’s appellation as a “Deluxe Edition” seems like a stretch for a disc with so few extras, but this package does enough right to earn my recommendation.